MGH dealing with shortage of injectable opioids

Doctors at the state's biggest hospital are battling a shortage of injectable opioids, used to treat patients with acute trauma.

Mass General Hospital staff told Boston 25 News that the shortage has lasted for months.

The vault, hidden in the bowels of MGH, is where the hospital stores millions of dollars of the hospital’s most potent medications, like the injectable opioids.

Director of Clinical Services John Marshall is monitoring the supply of injectable opioids like fentanyl, morphine and hydromorphone with a worried eye.

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“The manufacturer responsible for about 60 percent of the intravenous opioid market in the United States, Pfizer, has had some manufacturing delays for a variety of reasons,” he said.

The drugs are used in trauma situations, along with surgery and patients in the ICU.

A task force of doctors, nurses and pharmacists now meet every few days to monitor usage patterns,  worried they may have to cancel surgeries

“I'd say that is potentially on the table, but not in the very near future,” said Marshall.

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Manufacturers hope to have the shortage remediated by the beginning of 2019, but in the meantime, doctors here are having to get creative

“I think there is a silver lining to this shortage, and we are using other non-opioid medications more, such Tylenol, Ibuprofen,” said Marshall.

While there are concerns about staff administering some substitute medications they might not be familiar with, Marshall said less exposure to opioids is good for patients who could develop a dependency on them post care.